obesity in mice

Could cannabis help us rollback the country’s obesity problem? The latest science says YES. Graphic by Christopher Dombres.


America has been, and continues to be, one of the most overweight nations on the planet. It goes without saying that this growing obesity epidemic – which includes nearly one-third of all American adults – is a significant public health concern.

 

There are numerous reasons that the U.S. has become a breeding ground for obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a lot of it comes down to our behavior: eating calorie-dense foods and skipping out on exercise. Not to mention important environmental and genetic factors also at play.

Obesity has been a swelling problem in the U.S. for more than 50 years now, and we’ve yet to find a way to slow it down. In fact, an entire industry has been built off “helping” people lose weight.

It turns out that part of the solution, maybe even the obesity treatment that many of us have been looking for, has been right in front of us the whole time – albeit locked away, stigmatized and left in the shadows.

Studies Show Cannabis Helps Fight Obesity

man with obesity

People come in all shapes and sizes, but obesity leads to a lot of unwanted health problems.

Until recently, the notions of weight loss and cannabis use were pretty much oxymorons in the eyes of the public. But now we have solid proof that the average cannabis user is less likely to be obese.

The reason why, it turns out, is that cannabis can actually help the body control insulin production, and therefore help the body manage weight and caloric intake more efficiently.

We already knew that many people use cannabis to help them gain weight, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer patients, but there are also certain strains that have the opposite effect for some people, helping temper their cravings, and control daily caloric intake.

In other words, cannabis can also help you manage your appetite.

Cannabis Use in Lieu of Other Substances

beer and cigarettes

Cigarettes, alcohol, and even a lot of pharmaceuticals are much more dangerous than cannabis. When more people opt for pot over these substances, what will that look like for public health?

With cannabis use becoming more widely accepted, studies are showing that more and more people will gravitate towards the herb and leave other, more dangerous substances behind, including alcohol and even tobacco.

This is called the substitution effect, and it’s yet another way in which marijuana legalization can actually be a good thing for public health.

Less drinking could also help curb obesity. All that booze is high in calories, which is exactly where the ‘beer belly’ came from.

Cannabis Also Fights Diabetes

overweight woman with a cigarette

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes-related deaths are projected to rise by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

One other huge benefit to cannabis, particularly for those who are already overweight, is its effectiveness as a potential type 2 diabetes treatment. Research has found that those who use cannabis are better able to fight off the disease, and return to a normal body weight.

As mentioned previously, cannabis has been shown to have an effect on the body’s ability to produce and control insulin levels. This is what makes it so effective in treating diabetes, specifically type 2, which is basically a resistance to insulin developed over a period of time.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is closely associated with obesity because excess body fat disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. As more and more people become overweight, diabetes is in itself reaching epidemic levels.

But if medical science is allowed to bring cannabis into the treatment arsenal, some major headway could be made in keeping our society healthier. Everyone stands to gain from a healthier population.

How Do We Move Forward?

obesity dead in design

Cannabis could be exactly the medicine society needs, but first we have to educate and de-stigmatize.

It’s clear that cannabis has many properties that allow it to be a formidable obesity treatment or a type 2 diabetes treatment. With America – and many other countries around the world – facing a serious obesity epidemic, marijuana will be a welcome addition to many people’s lives, especially if viewed and packaged as a health supplement.

But we have to keep working to de-stigmatize and legalize in all regions. We must allow researchers and medical professionals to experiment with and use cannabis as a weight loss treatment. There’s already a pile of supporting evidence – a pile that will only grow with time.

We’re not saying that cannabis is a panacea, but it’s an option that people deserve to learn more about as well as have access to.

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